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Why You Need Spotter For Heavy Weight Lifting and How To Be One?

December 8th, 2012 · 2 Comments ·


Spotting is done by supporting a person during the weight training. But, why should spotting be required? Here are few reasons:

  1. Safety – When you are doing weight lifting, especially bench pressing with repetitions until failure approach, I strongly recommend you to get a spotter. If the weight drops, you won’t get hurt.
  2. Proper Form – Spotter may provide feedback on your technique whether you have pushed too far away or your back is not straightened correctly. When you are doing your last repetition, you normally need assistance to get it done correctly. In this case, spotter comes in to help you finish it.
  3. Encouragement – Spotter may motivate you to perform better with words of encouragement. I often hear people shouting, “Come on, you can do it!” “One more, one more and you will be the man!” “Another push and I will kiss your ass!”
  4. Psychology (placebo) effect – Sometimes, simply touching the bar is good enough to trick a person that you are supporting whereas you are there just to provide a level of comfort for his mind. With a spotter, a person normally dares to push the heavy weight for another few more repetitions beyond what he is normally capable.


Tips of Helping Others by Being a Spotter

  • If you want to be spotter for others, make sure you have the strength to be able to control the weight if that person fails completely. Otherwise, not only that person has the risk, being a spotter, you may get injured too. So, do not try to spot someone who is lifting 100 pounds when you can only lift half of that weight.
  • If you are spotting your partner who is using dumbbell, hold the same place for both hands at the same amount of support of each side.
  • If barbell is used, use both hands too to provide support evenly on the bar for balancing purpose.
  • You do not have to help too much. Otherwise, the exercise may be too easy for that person to complete. In other words, give just enough assistance, not too much, not too little.
  • Normally, you help in the positive phase and not the negative phase which that person resisting the weight force. That person should resist the force by himself so that he can reap the benefits of weight training.
  • When someone needs your help, normally he or she will ask it. So, you do not have to walk around and keep asking whether people want your help. It can be quite annoying. (Of course, if you need that pick up line to talk to the girl, you are forgiven.)


Examples of Spotting

  • For a common workout like Bench Press, the spotter will lift the bar back to the rack during the last rep. One may use the “touch on the bar” approach to provide the tricky effect.
  • In Barbell Squat, spotter normally stand behind the partner. When the person in front lifts the weight, the spotter will ready to catch their partner with their hands in case the lifter stumbles down.
  • In Skull Crushers for triceps, you stand behind the person who is lying on the bench. You will be ready to get the bar if the lifter drop it (so that it will not really crush his skull).
  • Someone has requested me to help doing the Dumbbell Shoulder Press. I looked at his weight – 60 pounds each dumbbell. I myself have problem lifting that weight with single hand and I had to tell him I could not. Ended up, two spotters (including me and another fellow), helping this big man to lift off the dumbbells from his thighs to above his shoulders. So, we are not really spotting him, but more in getting him in the starting position of the shoulder workout.

Hopefully, with the tips above, you will know what the right thing to do when you need spotting or being asked to be spotter in the gym.



Category: Weight Training

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2 responses so far ↓
  • mr.pervy // Dec 9, 2012 at 4:08 PM

    just make sure not to be a spotter for a hot girl like the one in the picture because of the natural distractions :)

  • Azri // Dec 17, 2012 at 11:05 AM

    Hi Mun,

    Great article, as always.

    I do my strength training every once a week, apart from my kettlebell workout on working days. What I can’t stand about spotters at the gym, is that they are more too ‘bench brothers’ than being spotter. The difference? Easy. A spotter, like you said, is the on who supposed to be there when we reached muscle failure, in order to prevent injury. However these guys are holding the bar (in bench press) and lifting half of the weight. Thus I’m not sure whether the original intention of gaining muscle is a success.

    And it makes me shook my head more when they’re using a spotter at the lat pull-down machine.

    This, and chicken leg lifters are my favourite since you can meet them in any gym in our country.


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